Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

In which I have a quote about the news

I am not smart enough to know what to say about racial conflict and the riots that have been occurring. So, I will turn to Martin Luther King Jr, who said this after the Detroit riots:

Urban riots must now be recognized as durable social phenomena. They may be deplored, but they are there and should be understood. Urban riots are a special form of violence. They are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or to attain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest. The looting which is their principal feature serves many functions. It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the Negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking. But most of all, alienated from society and knowing that this society cherishes property above people, he is shocking it by abusing property rights. There are thus elements of emotional catharsis in the violent act. This may explain why most cities in which riots have occurred have not had a repetition, even though the causative conditions remain. It is also noteworthy that the amount of physical harm done to white people other than police is infinitesimal and in Detroit whites and Negroes looted in unity.

A profound judgment of today’s riots was expressed by Victor Hugo a century ago. He said, ‘If a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.’

The policymakers of the white society have caused the darkness; they create discrimination; they structured slums; and they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society. When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also demand that the white man abide by law in the ghettos. Day-in and day-out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; and he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civic services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. Let us say boldly that if the violations of law by the white man in the slums over the years were calculated and compared with the law-breaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man. These are often difficult things to say but I have come to see more and more that it is necessary to utter the truth in order to deal with the great problems that we face in our society.

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What is Art?

In those conversations you have in your teens, you are often asked “what is Art?” I have heard every sort of definition, and you probably have your own, but mine is simple: Anything that we do to communicate thoughts, feelings and emotions to each other. A drawing, a song, a novel, an essay, a Facebook entry, all of it. Art keeps us alive, drives us forward and helps us feel as if we are not alone.

We create because we want to be heard and understood, from the simple songs of Wesley Willis to the long, complex novels of James Joyce, it’s all about “I have this thought, this idea, this feeling…do you get it?”

Success in art doesn’t come from being famous (a shallow pursuit), money (a necessary evil) or longevity (which you have no control over), but if you communicate. Do you touch someone with what you have created? Success comes from appreciating what others do and helping them build on that success as you work toward your own. It’s why I consume so much in the way of art, and spend my time discussing it…it’s truly the one thing that can change the world and make us feel connected instead of being driven apart.

Much love to friends old and new and never stop creating!

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A Hangin’ At The Home story

Today, when I got in to the group home for work, one of the clients was yelling, upset that a food item she wanted wasn’t there. She has been doing this every time I come in to this facility, partly because it’s a power and control thing, and partly because she knows that during shift change, things get very chaotic. It’s pure manipulation, and one of the staff who was working bought into it, and raised her voice as well, starting a power struggle.

I waited until they separated and I had finished my other duties and then came into the room with the client, knelt down by her wheelchair and said, “Why is it that every night when I come in, you start yelling and being angry? “

She demanded the food item again and I said, “Staff have said it’s not there. I’ll go look, but if it isn’t there, can you tell me why you are so angry every time I come in to work?”

She started yelling again, and I said, “I don’t like it when people yell at me. People have been yelling at me a lot lately and it makes me think that they don’t want me around. Is that why you yell at me?: You want me to go away?”

She stopped and said, “No, I like you. You’re nice to me.”

I replied, “You can only yell at me so many times before my feelings will be so hurt that won’t want to be here any more.”

Yep, in that moment, I was being human and honest with her. I checked the fridge, told her that the food item wasn’t there, and asked her nicely if she would apologize for yelling. She did and went to her room.

“Don’t lie to the clients” you may say…I wasn’t lying. The group home takes a toll on me, even if I am spending most of my time sleeping here. On those shifts, I have to wake up and help people to the bathroom, give them medication, deal with disputes and the like, and the sleep I get is fitful and not very good. On the weekends, when I work during the day, I have been head butted, punched, scratched, dealt with endless amounts of bodily waste and so on.

But, I live to serve.

Another client, who has been here as long as I have worked here, was verbally abusive, lashed out in anger and could be a bear of a human most of the time has moved out due to declining health. I will remember all of the time she hit me, or threw something at me or told me how horrible I was…but there were also times we talked about old movies, she helped me make a meal or sang along with music I was playing while working. I KNEW she couldn’t stop herself, that she just had those outbursts.

And because of that, I forgave her.

Oh hell, who am I kidding, I forgive everyone. It’s my thing, you know?

She would sometimes apologize, but mostly she would pretend that the outburst didn’t happen or it was all the staff’s fault.
I’ll miss her and her unique personality.

But in those moments when I was dealing with her anger and abuse, I would say, “Do you want me to leave?”

And while she would shout yes, an hour or so later, she’d come out of her room to see if I was still there.

If I DID leave because it was the end of my shift, I was told she would be upset and ask when I would be back.

I don’t know if this has much of a point. If I were a better writer, were a little less frazzled or were as smart as some people seem to think I am, I’d have a good wrap up that would make a big important point about how you can only carry so much before you have to lay the burden down and walk away.

But I am not that bright, incredibly tired, and hope that you read this and think to yourself to be a little nicer to the people who are there for you, because they are carrying burdens too, and sometimes, it may be too much for them to carry on their own.

Good night to friends old and new, and I wish nothing for you but good things tomorrow.

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From Facestab Today

I’m gonna break one of my personal rules and give advice. I tend not to give advice because, hell, I don’t know what’s best. If I did, would I have the life I have now? I think not.

However, there have been a few times that people have been posting a need for help over the last year or so. My advice? Give the help. Do it. If someone is asking for help in social media, it means they have run out of options. Now, I’m not talking about the person who adds you and then sends a PM asking for money, but someone you’ve had on your feed for a while suddenly puts up a Go Fund Me or asked for some cash to get through a rough week, do it.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a couple of bucks, a job lead, information on a place to live, spreading the word about a person they can’t get in touch with suddenly, or asking for someone to call and just help them feel like they aren’t alone, it doesn’t matter. Just. Do. It.

Much of what I read is social media is people lashing out over a politician they hate or a company that screwed someone over or some creative project that offends and upsets them. I have gotten sucked in to that vortex from time to time. I think anyone who knows me well, knows I am susceptible to getting trapped in a vortex.

However, we have an amazing tool at our fingertips here. We can help each other quickly and easily. All it will cost is a few bucks, or some of your time and you will be bringing REAL help and REAL change to your circle. We all say we want the world to be better…this is how you do it. One phone call, one gift card, one $20 donation, one kind word at a time.

Give the help. It changes the world more than you know.

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My quotes for today

“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions.” – Henri Nouwen

“The truth is…you’re the weak, and I am the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.” – Jules Winnfield “Pulp Fiction”

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Not why I podcast

I have been reading up on what I do and how it is seen, and comics podcasting has a bad reputation in some circles.  More and more I am seeing a variation of “It’s a bunch of wannabe comics creators trying to get publicity to break into the business” or “It’s a way for people to try to make themselves feel famous.”

As with any stereotype, there are elements of truth to it.  I have listened to many comics podcast from artists who talk about what they do and what projects they are working on.  I listen to a number of writer podcasts spanning from people who have been writing for 50+ years to people just starting out and trying to learn their craft.

But the whole “All podcasters want in the business”?

Nope.

Some are fans, some are broadcasters, some are retailers, some are creators, some are cosplayers and some are a mix of all of these and more.

My story is unique, as is everyone’s.

When I was in high school and college, I wanted to work in comics, the same way my classmates wanted to be rock stars, and we all knew nothing about the career.  We lived in a tiny rural area, and to go see an actual “rock star” perform or meet a comics creator, it was a nearly 4 hour drive to Chicago and I chose to see comic book creators when I went instead of rock concerts.

By the time I was in college, I was sending submissions to comics publishers, and while a few of the very small publishers were excited and offered me work, they went out of business before anything was published.

After a few years of this, I decided that I didn’t WANT to do comics any more.  Not because of the work to get in, but because I was also writing prose and enjoyed it much more.  I don’t think as visually as a good comics writer needs to, and I much more enjoyed working out a story with words, rather than describing to someone what the pictures would be.

I haven’t eliminated writing comics.  In fact, I have done a pair of webstrips.  The first was when the artist wanted to work with me on something, and asked that I create a strip for her to draw.  A few years after it ended, I took a couple of ideas I had for TV projects and slammed them together, as well as bits and pieces of the first strip and created World Wide News, which runs off and on when Dangerous Dan Mohr and I have the time, energy and ability to put it together.

But nowhere in my mind do I think that a major publisher (or even a minor publisher) will be picking it up.  I have some expansion plans for it that will return it to it’s roots, creatively, but I don’t see it being published by Image any time soon.

I get that there are a LOT of people who want to get into comics. It’s a field where most of the people who are fans want to dive in, whether it’s to do the Spider-Man story they’ve had in their head since they were 12, or to draw their own creations.  I also get that podcasting is a great way of getting your name out there for very little cost.

I also don’t podcast for it to be all about me.  Other podcasters I listen to want to be “famous”, and I reject that entire idea.  Fame for fame’s sake is nothing I am interested in.  Want proof?  Listen to Kray Z Comics and Stories and you’ll see that I don’t even give my actual name.  It’s not about me.

It’s about the stories involved in comics.

When I interview people, I will give my experiences to help connect with the person I am interviewing, but it’s all about them. Their stories.  Their work. What they do.

I started Kray Z Comics and Stories because I rarely saw my friend Joe Rider.  We both thought were were going to have jobs where we were on the road all the time, and it would be a great way to get together and talk once a week.  As time went on, I didn’t get the travelling job and the premise of the show stayed the same:

Two best friends chatting about their lives and their time reading, selling, and loving comic books.  That is the core of of the show and it always will be.  We’ve added things, but in the end, that is what the show is.  I did some convention appearances, and while they were a fun experiment, it didn’t add anything to the show, and felt as if it was draining the fun and enjoyment from what I do.

And I believe that if it isn’t fun, I’m not going to do it.

It is fun for me to talk to people.  It’s not fun to set up, deal with buggy equipment, crowds and asking those I care about to put themselves out for me. So, I called it a day so I can focus on delivering more and better content.

Because, it’s not all about me.

If you want to podcast for some other reason, more power to you.  Like any other artistic medium, there are no maps, no roads, just endless frontiers.

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My rejected Buzzfeed articles:

  • 10 ways your cat can use LinkedIn
  • 15 TV show references that 90’s kids think they understand but are really confused by
  • 1 Way that Gen Xers can care about these damn lists that infest the internet
  • 7 pics of Granny from the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons that are super sexy
  • We put this Lean Cuisine the microwave and you will probably believe what happens next
  • Replacing famous figures in history with a sponsored product in a sad attempt to make money and be funny
  • Here’s a list we stole from Cracked and changed enough words that we can pass it off as original
  • 57 lifehacks that are really just a pain in the ass
  • 15 bad excuses for being caught in public without pants
  • 22 times I was called “totally whack” by teenagers
  • 1 time a comic character threw up on Batman’s shoes
  • 20 reasons why I really don’t care what you did over the weekend
  • 50 ways to leave your lover
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My political observations for today

-Donald Trump will not drop out and anyone who says he will shouldn’t be listened to. Trump is loving this, and his “The system is rigged” is how he will explain his loss.

-Boy, the Clintons are always blessed with incompetent adversaries, aren’t they?

-Local races will be interesting as people try to attack Congresspeople and Senators to the Presidential candidates and they try to run from the association.

-Anyone who says “It’s never been this bad before” should not be listened to. History shows that we have had elections like this in the past, even with the beloved “Founding Fathers”. You want to see a TRUE nightmare, look at the election of 1856, which brought us the disastrous Presidency of James Buchanan.

-I like lists, how about you? They’re fun right? Think I could make this a Buzzfeed article if I titled it “Political Stuff that 90’s kids understand but Baby Boomers will be confused by”?

-Quite bluntly, I have struggled with remaining on social media due to the endless stream of people losing their fucking minds over Donald Trump. I have already dumped Instgram and Tumblr, and if not for my podcasts, I would just get rid of all of it and go into “splendid isolation” mode. I still might. CM Punk was asked about his wrestling career about 6 months before he quit that he would retire sooner than people think and never look back. I understand that feeling.

-Any stats the goes for Trump in November should immediately be given huge Education block grants, because they will obviously need some help.

-On a serious note, with Trump stating that “The system is rigged” already to explain the beating he’s gonna get in November, we should actually be concerned about his followers. There is a reason that, when a candidate loses, he concedes and then talks about how the system works and the peaceful transition of power. In the 80’s, I heard that Reagan would institute Martial Law in order to stay in power, then Bush, then Clinton, then Bush and now Obama. People already feel that the President is a heartbeat away from making themselves King.

People have been whipped into a frenzy by Trump’s rallies, and if you think people who show up screaming about building a wall and locking up their opponents will quietly accept the results of the election, you haven’t talked to any of them. They believe that Trump will show up, burn the place down and give them the country they have always wanted within days.

It’s not like the Obama folks who were shocked that he didn’t do the same thing and got upset that he was a moderate centrist (even though that is how he campaigned). They just stayed home and opted out of the political process. No, it’s more like the Tea Party on Meth and Steroids. I can see them pulling Clive Bundy like stunts to “show the government they won’t be pushed around anymore.” The right wing media has filled their heads with visions of FEMA camps, troops taking away their guns and hordes of non-white people taking all the jobs that are left.

Trump will not go quietly into that good night. He will throw a fit, as he has every step of the way, and continue to incite his followers.

-I don’t have a good closing joke here. Sorry.

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Recent quotes about writing from Aaron Sorkin

  • Intention and obstacle is everything. Intention and obstacle is what makes it drama. Somebody wants the money, they want the girl, they want to get to Philadelphia; it doesn’t matter, they just need a strong intention, and then there needs to be a formidable obstacle. The tactic that your protagonist (or protagonists) use to overcome that obstacle is going to be your story. That’s what you’re gonna hang everything on. Without intention and obstacle, you’re coming dangerously close to finger painting.
  • One of the biggest mistakes rookie screenwriters make is not having a strong intention or obstacle. The drive shaft of a car, beautiful leather seats, a fantastic sound system, a really cool paint job but the car isn’t going to move forward if the car doesn’t have a strong intention or obstacle.
  • David Mamet have written some excellent essays on this subject. You can get lost in the weeds if you sit down and try to create an entire biography for your character. If this is what they were like when they were six years old, and this is what they did when they were seven years old, and they scraped their knee when they were eight years old. Your character, assuming your character is 50 years old, was never six years old, or seven years old or eight years old. Your character was born the moment the curtain goes up, the moment the movie begins, the moment the television show begins, and your character dies as soon as it’s over. Your character only becomes seven years old when they say, “Well when I was seven years old, I fell in a well, and ever since then I’ve had terrible claustrophobia. Okay?
  • Characters and people aren’t the same thing. They only look alike.
  • I write a lot of drafts of screenplays and plays. I keep writing and I keep writing; what I try to do at the beginning is just get to the end. Once I’ve gotten to the end, I know a lot more about the piece, and I’m able to go back to the beginning and touch stuff that never turned into anything, and highlight things that are going to become important later on. And I go back, and I keep doing that, and I keep doing that, and I’ll retype the whole script, over and over again, just to make things sharper and sharper. That’s for movies and plays. In television, there just isn’t that kind of time. In television, I have to write a 55-minute movie every nine days, so we shoot my first draft.
  • I assume that the people who watch movies and television shows are at least as smart as the people who make movies and television shows. If the dialogue makes you sit forward a little, and listen a little bit more, that’s a good thing. It makes the audience active in the experience.
  • When it comes to screenwriting or television writing, there are real rules, and there are fake rules. In 1970, a CBS executive famously said that there are four things you’ll never see on television: a Jewish person, a divorced person, a person from New York City, or a person with a mustache. Obviously, that CBS executive had no idea what he was talking about, and those are the fake rules.  The real rules can be found in Aristotle’s Poetics.

 

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Social Media Grief

I’m not writing about tragedies any more on my social media.

Last week, we had a terrorist attack in Nice, France, an attempted coup in Turkey and police officers gunned down in Baton Rouge.  All three events are heartbreaking, senseless and have lit up social media with people discussing them, mourning the losses, and asking what can we do.

I didn’t write about any of them.

I was upset as each one happened.  I was crushed to see the loss of life, the heartbreak of those who lost loved ones, the hate that drives these events, but I didn’t write about them.  I have written about previous things in the past, expressing condolences, support, and the like.  However, in the end, none of that matters.

Je suis Charlie, remember the fallen, black lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter, and on and on and on.

It feels as if these things are happening with more regularity.  I don’t know if that’s true or if it is because we have the 24 hour cable news monster to be fed, and politicians who are using and exploiting these tragedies for their own purposes.  They’ve become political.  If you express sadness for one tragedy and not their other, it makes you part of one group, so you must not like the other group.  Why didn’t you comment on these deaths?  Are some people’s lives worth more than others?  Do you not care about the people with the brown skins or the black skins or the yellow skins or the white skins?

Enough.

I don’t want my social media experience to be that of endlessly talking about the tragedies in the world.  It’s not that I don’t care, or they don’t touch me, but that I add nothing to the discussion, my comments on it are beneath negligible and help no one.

And.

When I see people using these events to attack other people, to call into question their beliefs and demand a kind of emotional consistency, it actually makes it all that much worse.

These things are horrible enough.  We need to stop being horrible about them.

Instead, if you can do something, do it.  And that is what I will do from now on.

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